Column: The Delta variant is killing people by the Masses

Delta. (2021). [Illustration].

Camille Zanders, Senior Staff Reporter/Writer

Due to the merciless Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus, the Western world is experiencing a second surge of new COVID-19  related cases and deaths. Only slightly inferior to the pre-vaccine holiday season of late 2020 and early 2021, the Delta variant surge has raised the national number of new cases from around 64,000 on July 1 of this year to a whopping 300,000 new cases being recorded in one day by Sept. 7th. With more cases leading to more complications within medical centers nationwide, and ultimately more deaths, the United States is stuck in an uncomfortable position of panic and mourning. As the public tries to return to “normal life” it is time to understand that the only way to do so is to become educated on, and most importantly protected against, the horrors of the virus. 

Categorized by the World Health Organization as a Variant of Concern (VOC), the Delta variant is accepted as the dominant and most aggressive version of the resilient coronavirus. The variant possesses characteristics that not only works to suppress its victim’s immune responses but also makes it over two times as transmissible as its earlier counterparts. Considering it holds those functions, it spreads within one’s body and to anyone nearby at an accelerated rate leading to extremely severe symptoms and immediate treatment. 

Unfortunately, the people of the United States are not as educated on the hostility of this variant as we should. After experiencing the horrors of 2020 and the eventual introduction of vaccines, it is hard for one to accept being in a situation that could very well be worse. The denial of the severity of Delta  has led to an influx of hospitalizations, limited medical resources, and therefore a saddening amount of fatalities. States such as Nebraska, Kentucky, Alabama, and more are finding trouble accommodating the number and needs of all who have been placed in their care.

In August 2020, the Governor of Kentucky, Andy Beshear, shared in a news conference with NBC News, “Our hospitals are overrun and we will see significant deaths moving forward. More people are in the hospitals fighting COVID than ever before.”

Alabama faces a similar predicament as they officially reached maximum bed capacity in mid-August, forcing them to turn away those in need. “We have never been here before,” said Alabama Hospital Association President, Donald E. Williamson. “We are truly in uncharted territory in terms of our ICU bed capacity.”

This combination of the deadly variant with struggling health care has ended fatally for many. On July 1st, Cable News Network, most commonly known as CNN, announced that the Delta variant of COVID-19 had officially been found in all 50 of the states of the nation. According to statistics provided by The New York Times, there were 247 deaths COVID-19 related deaths that same day. As time has passed, and more people have been exposed that number has increased expeditiously. Feeling the wrath of Labor Day activities, the United States recorded a total of 2,226 deaths on Sept. 7th, 2,202 deaths on Sept. 8th, 3,231 on Sept. 9th, and 2,418 on Sept. 10th. Totaling at over 10,000 covid related deaths in the span of one weekend that accounts for over 10,000 memorial services and over 10,000 families mourning the loss of their loved one.

In the meantime, there are a number of preventative measures that we can take in order to lessen the harm of Delta. Medical institutions continue to stress the importance of handwashing, social distancing, remaining masked, and most notably of getting vaccinated. While those who are vaccinated are still capable of being infected by the Delta variant, the symptoms experienced are significantly less intense.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) explains, “For people infected with the Delta variant, similar amounts of viral genetic material have been found among both unvaccinated and fully vaccinated people. However, like prior variants, the amount of viral genetic material may go down faster in fully vaccinated people when compared to unvaccinated people.”

With over 80% of those hospitalized being unvaccinated individuals, there is an obvious relationship between the severity of symptoms and transmission rates with vaccination status. It is believed by many medical officials that communities with low vaccinated populations are the culprits leading to the surge of the Delta variant. 

  1. Perry Wilson, M.D., of Yale Medicine, explains the occurrence more in-depth when he said, “I call it patchwork vaccination, where you have these pockets that are highly vaccinated that are adjacent to places that have 20% vaccination. The problem is that this allows the virus to hop, skip, and jump from one poorly vaccinated area to another.” 

As also stated by the CDC, “Low vaccination coverage in many communities is driving the current rapid surge in cases involving the Delta variant, which also increases the chances that even more concerning variants could emerge.” 

As a nation, we should all do our parts in making our communities as safe as possible. It is incredibly selfish for the general public to attempt to continue life as normal when our medical workers are helpless and our neighbors are dying. It is vital that we fight this Delta variant as tirelessly as possible, as it has continued to prove that it could take us out otherwise.